Identifying student misconceptions of programming

Lisa C. Kaczmarczyk, Elizabeth R. Petrick, J. Philip East, Geoffrey L. Herman

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


educators are often baffled by the Computing misconceptions that their CS1 students hold. We need to understand these misconceptions more clearly in order to help students form correct conceptions. This paper describes one stage in the development of a concept inventory for Computing Fundamentals: investigation of student misconceptions in a series of core CS1 topics previously identified as both important and difficult. Formal interviews with students revealed four distinct themes, each containing many interesting misconceptions. Three of those misconceptions are detailed in this paper: two misconceptions about memory models, and data assignment when primitives are declared. Individual misconceptions are related, but vary widely, thus providing excellent material to use in the development of the CI. In addition, CS1 instructors are provided immediate usable material for helping their students understand some difficult introductory concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages5
Specialist publicationACM Inroads
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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